Two Virginia public school bus crashes show that children face many risks for traffic accident-related injuries. The wrecks occurred within 20 hours of each other and hundreds of miles apart, highlighting the reality that all drivers must exercise caution when students are traveling to and from school.
The earlier crash happened on Long Meadow Road in the Augusta County town of Fisherville. Fourteen Wilson Middle School and Wilson Memorial High School students suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment when their bus ran off the road on the afternoon of February 11, 2016. The bus driver reportedly struck a pot hole and swerved across the lane for oncoming traffic. The driver then overcorrected her steering, causing the bus to run into a ditch on the right-hand side of the road and slam into a tree. Police charged the driver with failure to maintain control.
Shortly after noon on February 12, a pickup truck rear-ended an Isle of Wight County school bus that had stopped on Courthouse Highway/Route 58 to turn left onto Waterworks Road. The students aboard the bus had been released early from Smithfield Middle and Smithfield High because of a looming snowstorm. Two of the children on the Isle of Wight bus sustained injuries. It is unclear whether the pickup truck driver will be charged with a violation like following too closely, speeding or failing to yield to a school bus.
All children hurt in both recent Virginia school bus crashes are expected to recover. While that is good news, the injured students' parents may face unexpected medical bills and live with new concerns over their children's safety. Filing claims may cover the costs, but litigation against a government employee can present unique challenges.
Skill and professionalism by school bus drivers can minimize worries over safety. But car and truck drivers sharing the roads with school buses also have significant roles to play by obeying laws to stop for buses.